Harry Swisher

born: 20 May 1886
Volinia Township, Michigan,
United States of America
died: 02 June 1925
Los Angeles, California
United States of America
(suicide by strychnine poison, age 39)

American actor. Harry's family were prominent farmers in Cass County, Michigan for many years. Harry had dreamed since childhood of becoming a railroad or streetcar conductor. He accomplished both.
At age 18 he left the family farm for Dayton, OH and by 1908 he moved into that occupation and a little later got a job as conductor on a Pullman train, traveling all over the country. This is probably why I don't find him in the 1910 Census in Ohio or Michigan. In a 1923 interview, his brother Leslie, a policeman back in Michigan, said that Harry moved to Los Angeles because of "failing health" and at some time had worked as a manager at the William S. Hart Studio and an assistant director at L-Ko.
By 1912 he was in Los Angeles working as a salesman for the Broadway Department Store and later as a clerk. In 1914 he was an actor; 1915 a clerk; 1916 an actor: 1918 a clerk and a Pacific Electric Railway conductor and in 1920 a motion picture actor!
He found time to do stage acting with professional companies: Cinema Players, Co-Operative Theater Assn., and Gamut Club. He headed the make-up department for the Pola Negri film "The Spanish Dancer" in 1923. Ironically his last film role was 1924's "Racing for Life". On June 2, 1925 at a female friend's apartment he said: "I'm going to see Pearl; she will understand". He then swallowed strychnine and died on the way to the hospital. It was said that "Pearl" was his childhood sweetheart who had died a few weeks before he took his own life "in a fit of despondency". I never found the "Pearl" mentioned in one of the obituaries.
His body was returned to Michigan for burial. In 1933, his 80 year-old parents were killed by a car as they crossed a highway. They were interred next to their son.
Real name: Harry La Verne Swisher
Films listed on this page: complete Hal Roach filmography.


Lonesome Luke's Honeymoon

(click any image to enlarge)

The Harold Lloyd Encyclopedia by Annette D'Agostino Lloyd (book)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NQ89-XHM (MI County Birth Records 1886 May 20)
https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/24693575:7602 (1900 C Volinia, MI: b 1887 May 20)
https://www.newspapers.com/ (Benton Harbor Palladium 1902 Jul 21: grFather dies: prominent farmer)
https://www.ancestry.com/ (1907 City Dir Dayton OH: clerk: Harry L Swisher)
https://www.ancestry.com/ (1908 City Dir Dayton OH: conductor: Harry L Swisher)
https://www.ancestry.com/ (1912 CD LA: r 144 S Grand: slsmn B'way Dept Store: Harry L Swisher)
https://www.ancestry.com/ (1913 CD LA: r 144 S Grand: clerk: Harry L Swisher)
https://www.ancestry.com/ (1914 CD LA: r 144 S Grand: ACTOR: Harry L Swisher)
https://www.ancestry.com/ (1915 CD LA: r 144 S Grand: clerk: Harry L Swisher)
1916 voter LA: 933 Winfield: ACTOR: Harry L Swisher)
https://www.ancestry.com/ (1918 CD LA: 1137 Colton: clerk: Harry L swisher)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KZVV-GJP (1918 Sep LA: Draft: motorman Pac Ele RR: b.19 (sic) May 1886)
https://www.ancestry.com/ (1920 CD LA 1647 E 40th: motorman: Harry L Swisher)
https://www.ancestry.com/ (1920 voter LA: 1006 Sanborn: "motion pictures": "La Verne Swisher")
https://www.ancestry.com/ (1920 Census LA: 236 N Bunker Hill: actor-MP: Harry Swisher)
https://archive.org/details/camera (p16: 1923 June 23 LA: in charge of make-up for Pola Negri film; Harry La Verne)
(1923 Mar 10 LA: portrait: stage acting: Harry La Verne)
https://www.newspapers.com/image/203834275/?terms=SWISHER&match=1 (1923 Apr 8: Interview bro: photos)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QGTD-QTHS (1925 Jun 2 LA: Death Cert: suicide: strychnine poison)
https://www.newspapers.com/image/682862137/?terms=%22HARRY%20LaVERNE%22&match=1 (1925 Jun 2: obit: res 6047 Selma Av)
https://archive.org/details/exhibitorsherald21unse/page/n1729/mode/1up?view=theater&q=%22HARRY+La+VERNE%22 (1925 Jun 20: "despondency")
"Benton Harbor Palladium" (p 15; 1933 Oct 12; parents killed)
Jim Jarvis (bio notes and research)

This page was last updated on: 29 August 2023